History of DiversityWeb
DiversityWeb, as its name implies,
was created through a web of collaborations among three entities: The
Ford Foundation, the Association of
American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U),
and the University of Maryland, College Park (UM).
Funded through a generous grant from
the Ford Foundation, DiversityWeb was
officially launched in 1996 through
a collaborative grant to AAC&U
The Origins of the Partnership
In 1990, the Ford Foundation created
its Campus Diversity Initiative and for the next decade the Foundation invested significant
funds to help higher education address
compelling diversity issues. By
the time Ford’s Campus Diversity
Initiative was completed, more than
four hundred colleges and universities
had been influenced directly or indirectly
by the Foundation’s efforts.
In 1993, with funding from the Ford Foundation
and others the Association
of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) unveiled its multi-project initiative,
"American Commitments: Diversity, Democracy,
and Liberal Education." The project enabled AAC&U to work with
colleges and universities that were willing to
make diversity a central educational
component of their curriculum, climate,
and institutional policies. By the time
DiversityWeb was launched, AAC&U
was in the midst of working with some
125 colleges and universities, all of
which already had developed or were developing promising
campus practices in diversity.
The University of Maryland, College Park (UM) was one
of AAC&U’s leadership institutions
selected for "American Commitments." UM
was distinguished by strong presidential
commitment to diversity and comprehensive
attention to diversity by many faculty,
administrators, and staff across multiple
university departments and divisions.
The University of Maryland proved a forerunner in the task of incorporating diversity
as an educational goal and reflecting
that goal in its institutional structures
and process of accountability.
All three principal collaborators
were interested in disseminating the
best practices they found emerging from campuses
nationally. They could see that institutions
were reinventing themselves in order
to be better prepared to educate all students
well, to reflect the scholarship of
diversity and democracy in the curriculum,
and to promote more campus-community
partnership to build stronger communities
At this point, however, the Web was
just emerging as a possible vehicle
to accomplish these goals. Most campuses
did not have Web sites, few faculty
used it for course descriptions, and
technology was still out of reach for the average user. Moreover, AAC&U was not
yet wired to the Internet. Nonetheless,
an intrepid group of visionaries in
this collaboration decided
to invent DiversityWeb.
Led AAC&U's President Carol Geary Schneider (then AAC&U's executive vice president), the American Association of University Women's (AAUW) Director Gladys Brown (then UM's Director of the Office of Human Relations Programs), and AAC&U's Senior Fellow Edgar Beckham (then a program officer at the Ford Foundation, DiversityWeb began construction.
The leadership of Schneider, Brown,
and Beckham was matched by David J.
Henry, the manager of Academic Software Integration
and Development and Academic Information
Technology Services, and his colleague,
Lida L. Larsen, the coordinator for Online
David and Lida brought the technical
expertise and deep commitment that ultimately
wired the vision. Without their generous
investment and oversight in the project,
it would have undoubtedly faltered, but they insisted that it was
possible to invent this unheard-of interactive
resource hub on diversity in higher
education, an kept good on their promise.
The architecture and
content for DiversityWeb were hammered out
thanks to a distinguished group of diversity
scholars and practitioners who were
appointed as DiversityWeb's Advisory Board. This group laid the blueprint for the site, refined
it as it evolved, and vetted its materials.
In the initial stages, construction
was slow, materials took weeks to upload,
and software for interactive forums
and workrooms were not advanced enough
to provide easy online dialogues. But
over time DiversityWeb emerged as the
most comprehensive Web site for resources
in higher education in the United States.
Continuing the Legacy
Over the years, the number of people
who have contributed to DiversityWeb
has expanded as staff and responsibilities changed
both at AAC&U and at UM.
At AAC&U, the following staff
have supported the development of DiversityWeb
from 1995 through 2002: Caryn McTighe
Musil, Debra Humphreys, Laura Blasi,
Maureen McNully, Daniel Singh, Diana
Alvarado, Lisa Bernstein, Michelle Asha
Cooper, Maria E. Figueroa, Heather
D. Wathington, and Lori Webster.
At UM, the following staff have supported the development
of DiversityWeb from 1995 through 2002: Gloria J. Bouis,
Rahul Mahajan, Paul Gorski, Gia Harewood, Dodie Kerby,
Christine Clark, Sivagami Subbaraman, Janice White,
Mark Brimhall, and Joanne Sanders-Reio.
From the beginning, AAC&U assumed
full responsibility for producing three
components of the original DiversityWeb
- Recommend Resources,
the set of campus practices and policies
vetted by the Advisory Board, which
on this current site, has been reconfigured
as Diversity Innovations and Research
- Diversity Digest,
a quarterly publication available
both in print and electronically which
is thematically organized to highlight
campus innovations and research about
- Institutional Profiles,
profiles of 200 selected colleges and universities (these resources have been infused into the current site).
For its part, UM, which housed DiversityWeb
on its home site from 1996 until 2002,
assumed responsibility for the technical
support and design of the site. UM
also created the electronic version
of Diversity Blueprint: A Planning Manual
for Colleges and Universities a planning
resource based on the University of
Maryland’s organizational structure
used to sustain its diversity programs.
Diversity Blueprint was eventually published
in collaboration with AAC&U in 1998.
UM also was responsible for the DiversityWeb
Both UM and AAC&U worked together
on the various interactive components
in the original site: the workroom,
the threaded discussions, and the forums,
none of which remains on the current
A New Home and Design for DiversityWeb
While we could not have created DiversityWeb
without the collaboration between the
two institutions, both UM and AAC&U
agreed that it made sense at this juncture
to have AAC&U assume full
responsibility for the Web site. In June 2002, AAC&U became solely
responsible for the design, content,
and technology support for DiversityWeb.
AAC&U has incorporated both DiversityWeb
and Diversity Digest as a regular part
of its ongoing projects that focus
on education and social responsibility
in a diverse democracy.
Influenced by the evaluation of an
external Web consultant to DiversityWeb last spring, AAC&U
used last half of 2002 to review, restructure,
and redesign the site. AAC&U relied
upon the skills of Hugh O’Connor
and Noreen O’Connor in the redesign.
They worked closely with three AAC&U
staff people in the office of Diversity,
Equity, and Global Initiatives: Caryn
McTighe Musil, Heather D. Wathington,
and Michelle Asha Cooper.